Presidential candidate Newt Gingrich in 1999 asked his second wife for an “open marriage” or a divorce at the same time he was giving speeches around the country on family and religious values, his former wife, Marianne, said Thursday.
In an interview with The Washington Post, Marianne Gingrich said her former husband called her on May 10, 1999, as she was having dinner with her 84-year-old mother and said, “I want a divorce.”
Newt of course denies that he asked for an open relationship:
At the Republican presidential debate Thursday night, Gingrich responded directly to his ex-wife’s allegations for the first time, issuing a blanket denial. “The story is false,” he said.
After Gingrich’s comments at the debate, Marianne Gingrich declined to direcly respond to the denial, other than to say she was sticking by her story, which she said is “the truth.”
Earlier in the day at a campaign event in South Carolina, the former speaker of the House had called the interviews with his former wife “tawdry and inappropriate” and refused to answer questions about them. “I’m not going to say anything about Marianne,” he said with his third wife, Callista, standing a few paces behind him.
Gingrich has said on several occasions that he has made mistakes in his life and has asked God for forgiveness.
I've been critical of Newt Gingrich ever since I got involved in politics back in the mid-1980s. Beyond his politics, with which I disagree wholeheartedly, he has an awful history regarding relationships, there's no doubt of that. There's more than a tinge of hypocrisy when Newt talks about "family values". Yet, this story doesn't quite ring true for me.
What if Marianne had agreed to being in an open relationship? Would Newt have actually gone through with it? People can forgive past mistakes, even sins - for some it's a religion, yet those are sins in the past, they're not ongoing. As hubristic as Newt is, even he would surely have realized that such a set-up would have inevitably become known, the resulting publicity destroying his conservative credentials and torpedoing his career. It's a great story, salacious and titillating, and it reminds everyone of what a schmuck Gingrich is, but I have my doubts about it.